Friend of victim takes stand in murder trial

September 5, 2013 10:50:31 AM

Sarah Fowler - [email protected]


A man who suffered a gunshot wound during a deadly 2010 shooting took the witness stand during a Columbus murder trial Wednesday, wiping tears from his eyes as he recounted the events that took his best friend's life. 


Ranzino Ahmad Harris is charged in the death of Justin Murray. Prosecutors say that on the morning of May 17, 2010, Harris shot Murray twice and wounded Michael Brewer during the same incident. Harris is charged with murder and aggravated assault. 


Brewer, a friend of Murray's, said he and his friend spent the night prior to the shooting at a Schoolhouse Avenue home with sisters Terecia Lee and Ashley Hill. Lee's four young children were also there. The following morning, Harris, who is Hill's ex-boyfriend, showed up at the home and got into a physical altercation with Hill, according to Brewer. 


When Murray attempted to stop the fight, he got into an altercation with Harris. Brewer testified that he hit Harris as well, saying, "I don't believe it's right to hit women. I grew up around that and I told myself I wouldn't let that happen again." 


The fight lasted approximately one minute before Harris left the home. Brewer testified that minutes later, he, Murray, Lee and Lee's young son went into the living room and were about to leave the home when the door open and a gun appeared. 


"When he pulled the door open I saw a black gun," Brewer said.  


He said he saw Lee at the door talking to someone but did not see Harris until he started shooting. 


When shots rang out, Brewer said he saw Murray take a bullet to the chest before turning to run. Murray then suffered a gunshot to the back of his head and dropped to the floor. Brewer said he ran from the living room to escape the shooting but sustained a gunshot wound to his middle finger.  


When Brewer said when he returned to the living room, he saw Murray lying face down on the floor. Brewer said he rolled his friend over and attempted CPR. 


Harris' defense attorney, Mark Cliett, questioned Brewer's version of events. The attorney asked why Brewer would give CPR to a man who sustained a gunshot wound to the chest. 


"My adrenaline was pumping," Brewer said. "I just went straight to him." 


Paramedics had to physically remove Brewer from the home. 


"I was holding Justin," he said. "They had to pull me off him." 


Brewer said he only realized he had been shot after paramedics told him. 


"They told me I had been shot and I asked if Justin was OK. They shook their head no," he said. 


Brewer was emotional throughout his testimony, and was seen repeatedly wiping tears from his eyes as he referred to Murray as his best friend. When he left the stand he was shaking. After his testimony, several members of Murray's family exited the courtroom in tears. 


Wednesday's testimony also included investigators from the Columbus Police Department as well as the 911 tape made after the shooting.  


Testimony is expected to continue today.

Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.